Earlier this week, I visited the new Holocaust Memorial in Berlin (dedicated in 2005). It consists of about 2,700 stone slabs in a large field located near the Brandenburg Gate (a very central location), and was designed by the American designer Peter Eisenman. It is called the "Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe."
This is a view from the edge. The nearer slabs are shorter, and the ones in the middle are taller. Initially, I got the feeling I was looking at a grave yard with a number of tombstones. There are no signs or plaques on the slabs. They "speak" for themselves.
But as I walked into the Memorial, the paths descend and the slabs grow taller, and I began to get a "walled in" feeling.
As I continued to walk in, I was no longer able to see the whole Memorial, only just the slabs immediately near me. This happens fairly quickly.
At the middle, the slabs rise up to about 10 feet or so, and I definitely got a "closed in" feeling. The orderly grid in which the slabs are laid out made me think of the highly organized Nazi killing machine that carried out these murders.
As I walked out, the slabs got shorter and the paths rose up, and it was possible to see the whole panorama once again. But I had an instant recollection that I had just been in a dark, penned up place.
Public reaction for the Monument has been generally favorable. The main criticism has been that it is only dedicated to the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, and not to the communists, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others who also died in the camps.